"On my first day as a professional cricketer, I arrived in my mum's 1963 Ford Anglia"

David Gower, OBE, says he never expected to make any money playing cricket for his club

Updated: 
David Gower professional cricketer never expected to make money from playing

Here, he talks about his first days as a professional cricketer, why he was once almost accosted by an American waiter, and the reason why he believes HMRC is a "morally reprehensible" organisation.

You spent your childhood in Dar Es Salaam, Africa, when it was a British colony. How did
that affect your values?


We had a perfectly nice house to live in, nothing extravagant or extraordinary, and my parents weren't lavish. I was aware of values and grew up not expecting the world and not being particularly spoilt.

When my parents left Africa, the last thing we did was a tour of the Serengeti and the northern Tanzanian game parks. So, one of my abiding passions stemming from those early days, which I do as much as I can, is safari and wildlife conservation. That's one of the reasons I'm a patron of the rainforest charity, World Land Trust.

What was life like when you first started playing cricket professionally?

I was 18 and still living at home with my mum up in Loughborough, so half an hour's drive away from Leicester, the team I was playing for. The car that we left Africa with, which was a 1963 Ford Anglia, was still going. So when I passed my driving test aged 17, that became my car. So on my first day as a fully signed up professional cricketer, I arrived in that 1963 Ford Anglia.

Was money important to you at the time?

No - the truth is, I just wanted to play. I always took the view that Leicestershire were my club and they would pay me whatever I was worth - and if I was going to make any money, it would be from playing for England. My feeling has always been that I should enjoy playing and succeed at the game, and see what happens after that. Which to be fair, has worked pretty well.

Are you quite good with money?

Reasonably good. By and large I try to keep it simple enough.

How about your father?

My father was an intelligent man with a good grasp of economics. He played the stock-market a little bit but with judgment rather than a pin and a piece of paper. That's not exactly a speciality of mine I can tell you!

Do you live within your means?

Yes. I wouldn't say that we're extravagant - but there's been a lot of travel. It's one of the great joys of having been an international sportsman and covering international cricket for Sky that's there's been a certain amount of travel that's compulsory for the job. My daughters have been able to come and join me at times like that, both when I've been working and at other times specifically on holiday, so all the benefits are there.

How do you feel about tipping?

It gets confusing overseas. As a traveller, you never quite sure what the norm is. I'm sure I've over-tipped in India once or twice using the wrong notes. I'll always remember travelling to the States for the first time and being almost accosted by a room service waiter for not giving him 20%. He'd only walked 20 yards with a burger. I was naive enough at the time not to realise they rely on tips almost entirely for their wages.

Do you enjoy working as a cricket broadcaster?

It's something I understand and know. I feel pretty secure in it and I love doing it.

People say to me: Wouldn't you like to do something else - how about making some real money, set up something or do something entrepreneurial? Of course I admire all the Dysons of this world, who have a good idea, bring it to the market and it succeeds. But I don't have that confidence in my idea-making and originality or business acumen to risk it.

Being pretty secure and comfortable counts for a lot, enjoying what you do - and I love what I do - counts for a lot, we have a fantastic production team and I really don't see any need to get over-ambitious and risk all that. I love it - so I'll stick with it.

Do you believe in saving for the long term?

Yes, but there is a balance. Planning for say 30 years hence is all very well but you know 30 years is a long time and you've got to get there first. So in the meantime, it's a shame not to enjoy something now. We're never extravagant. There's the odd little thing that might veer towards extravagance. But we still stick to that principle of living within our means.

How do you pay for stuff?

I pay for a lot of stuff on my credit card, and then make sure it's paid off automatically when it's due so I don't pay any interest. We have a credit card from my bank and a John Lewis card - that's my wife's pride and joy. I get a little bit of cashback and rewards here and there but I'm not in it for the rewards.

What's the first thing you'd do if you were Chancellor?

I'd also have a severe word with HMRC about their approach to retrospective legislation. There are lots of people who like to think they are quite organised about earning and saving money, who have taken steps within the law to safeguard and maximise their savings. You pay whatever tax is due, and then put money away. Then the Revenue basically changes the rules in order to grab some of that money back again. I see that as morally reprehensible.

David Gower supports the World Land Trust, the international conservation charity which protects the world's most biologically important and threatened habitats.

Visit www.worldlandtrust.org/supporting/donate to make a donation.

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